Leach Green Lane, Rednal, Birmingham B45
A plain but dignified late essay in the modern basilican style by Sandy & Norris.
The parish was formed in 1956, from part of St Brigid’s Northfield, to serve a growing residential suburb on the southwest edge of Birmingham. The first parish priest was the Rev. Bernard Robinson, who first said Mass in Colmers Farm School. He raised the funds to build the current church. St James’s Catholic primary school opened in 1959. Within the parish is the burial place of St John Henry Newman (d.1890).
The church is aligned with the sanctuary to the southwest and the entrance facing the road; in this description liturgical compass points will be used.
The building is faced in a buff drag-wire brick on a darker brick plinth, with cavity walls; the concrete tiled roof has concrete coped verges and projecting eaves with cast-iron rainwater goods. The church is designed in a plain basilican style with a plan consisting a four-bay aisled nave with west narthex below a gallery, and sanctuary under one roof. Sacristies, confessionals and side chapels are in flat-roofed projections. The sanctuary is not expressed externally and has a blind east wall, with north and south clerestory windows. The west gable end is plain, articulated by a double-height semi-circular arched recessed panel containing an arched window above a square-headed central doorway. There are no string courses or other decoration. The west window has polycarbonate sheet protection. The aisles are lit by small steel windows and have flat roofs behind plain parapets, while the nave has pairs of tall flat headed narrow windows; all windows are steel with yellow or plain glass. Flat-roofed sacristies wrap around the east and north sides of the sanctuary.
The simple interior is typical of other post-war churches by this architect, but more plainly finished. The walls are plain plastered, and the nave ceiling has a simple recess with acoustic panels. Floors are carpeted. The nave is separated from the four-bay aisles by plain rectangular plastered columns with flat lintels, with a similar detail to the side chapels. The narthex has a flat plastered ceiling and concrete tiled floor, with double doors and plain windows in the wall separating the space from the nave. The sanctuary has a carpeted platform with recent timber balustrading and a marble altar and font. Other fittings include oak bench pews, hardwood panelled doors and globe pendant lights, probably the originals.
Text slightly amended 14.12.20
Architect: Sandy & Norris
Original Date: 1960
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed